Sun | Jul 25, 2021

Phillips, Williams spar over approved schools

Published:Friday | January 29, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer

Minister of Education, Information and Youth Fayval Williams on Tuesday rejected allegations that her ministry had failed to provide subventions for some schools to effect the necessary repairs to bring them up to the required standard to offer face-to-face classes.

This was in response to claims by North West Manchester Member of Parliament Mikael Phillips that some of the 292 approved schools were in no condition to re-open, based on the level of repair and rehabilitation they require. Even though he failed to name the schools, the rural member of parliament insisted that he had first-hand knowledge of two schools in Manchester – one which was without a roof and the other which had no electricity, but had been approved for re-opening.

“Is it fair enough to say that the tardiness of some contractors to effect some of these repair works have not been forthcoming is because of lack of payment from the ministry?”

“All schools have received their subventions,” the education minister countered, refusing to be swayed, and issuing the following challenge to Phillips.

“With regards to subventions and schools in your constituency, please let us know because the records of the ministry show that all schools have received their subventions. So if there is a school telling you that they haven’t, we would love to know that school and to investigate as to why they would be saying that?”

MANY VARIABLES TO REOPENING

She went on to point out that there are many variables leading up to the decision to approve schools for face-to-face reopening, including the installation of wash stations, with the necessary signage and sanitisation stations.

“It’s not because they didn’t get the funds why they are not approved or because the contractor was not paid why they are not approved ... . I know the ministry has been quite vigilant in terms of ensuring schools have the subvention in order to ensure that they have the wash stations in place and signs at the school and so on. It is not because of timing of the funds. I know the schools have received funds.”

Phillips however, refused to be accept any explanation from the education minister and instead issued a challenge to her.

“I would prefer it the minister could come to the house at some time to let us know the amount of schools that are in the similar position islandwide and report to the Parliament on how many schools that contracts have been signed and work to be given out for schools that are on the list, that works have not been initiated.”

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com